Making history relevant

Authors: Sarah Jaffe*,
Topics: Historical Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: historical, imagery, programming, automation
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Libraries around the globe have troves of historical aerial images capturing the representation of human existence and land cover change across space and time, with some library collections holding over a century of data. However, the varying degrees of quality and lack of metadata often associated with these images have hindered the ability for researchers to use these data beyond visual comparisons. Furthermore, the sheer amount of imagery in these collections combined with proprietary technology often used to georeference these images could require resources that may not be easily accessible (training, time or money). This poster presents a direction toward unlocking these historical data using an automated, open source method accessible to anyone with a computer and two data points, a centroid and spatial resolution. This method comes with faults, but we present an argument that further efforts to making these data useful in research are not out of reach and the reward could contribute to a better understanding of how we have modified our world up through today and beyond.

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